by Calum Goddard (@CalumGoddard)
AFC Bournemouth face Premier League champions Chelsea tomorrow, after Eddie Howe’s side picked up two much-needed wins this week.
A fantastic display away to Stoke last Saturday gave the Cherries confidence ahead of their Carabao Cup tie at home to Middlesborough mid week, where they rolled out 3-1 winners with Callum Wilson scoring on his return to the first-team fold.
Howe discussed his attacking options for the tricky fixture against Antonio Conte’s Blues: “We have a lot of good players who, when they are performing well, give me plenty of selection headaches.”
Josh King remains unfit after an illness he picked up early last week, accompanied by a back problem that has been a concern since pre-season.
“He’ll see a specialist next week, but hopefully it’s not a problem…he’s a doubt for Chelsea.” Howe revealed, but also said Jermain Defoe, Callum Wilson and Benik Afobe are all in contention for a starting spot.
The Cherries boss said he expects it to be a big test of character for the team tomorrow, however he also made it clear that his team are up for the challenge and will be willing to pounce on mistakes from the reigning champions.
Howe said he is a big admirer of Antonio Conte: “He has brought a lot to the league. A lot of teams, including us, have tinkered with three at the back.”
Furthermore, when asked about the effect managerial sackings can have, Howe explained how it’s important for him to focus on his job on a more personal level: “With every sacking the mindset changes, so building for the future and developing your youth system, developing young talent, that can all fall away as you focus on an immediate fix.”
Howe also explained the importance of the supporters getting behind the team: “You need to develop talent and get results along the way, and my philosophy won’t change – and you need backing from the club to do that.”
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are in steady form, after a pair of negative results in the league against Manchester City and Crystal Palace saw the Blues bounce back against Watford. However, Chelsea have struggled to find defensive form this year and Eddie Howe’s men will be expected to pose a big threat at the Vitality Stadium.
Kick-off on the south coast is 5:30pm.